Choereg, Armenian Sweet Braided Bread Recipe
Choereg, Armenian Sweet Braided Bread
Flavors of Armenia

Prep time: 15 minutes
Rising time: 2 + 1 + 1 hours (you can also prepare the choeregs the day before. For the last rise, leave them at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap)
Baking time: 70 minutes (small spiced choeregs: 20-25 minutes)

Chef's Note

Choereg, Tcheureg, Chorag…
No matter how you spell it, choereg is a traditional braided bread. The recipe varies from one family to another. Whether you prefer it sweet or savory, individual or family-sized, it’s always served with cheese and strong coffee.

(1) Mahleb or Mahaleb – mahleb is the kernel from the pit of a sour black cherry from the St. Lucie cherry tree, a member of the Prunus family that is widespread in the Middle East. When powdered, it adds a touch of bitter almond flavor in the preparation of sweet breads and pastries, particularly in Turkey and Armenia.
Substitute: a few drops of bitter almond extract.

Hints and tips
(2) Some Armenian bakers substitute vegetable oil for the melted butter.

For 2 large choeregs

- 1 kilo / 8 cups all-purpose flour
- 14 g / 2 packets active dry yeast
- 125 ml / ½ cup warm water
- 225 g / 8 oz / 1 cup melted butter (2)
- 330 g / 1-1/2 cup white sugar
- 5 large eggs, lightly beaten + 1 yolk for glaze
- 1 Tbsp. ground mahleb (1)
- A pinch of salt
- 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Step 1

  • Dissolve the yeast in 125 ml warm water with 1 tsp. sugar. Let stand until foamy.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the milk; heat until the milk just begins to simmer WITHOUT boiling. Let cool.
  • In a small bowl, beat the eggs, then incorporate them into the cooled butter-milk mixture.

Step 2

  • In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, mahleb, remaining sugar and salt. Create a well in the center and pour in the yeast and milk-butter-egg mixture. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients. Knead for 10 minutes or until a smooth, soft dough forms.

Step 3

  • Place the dough into a buttered or oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 2 hours until the dough has doubled in volume.
  • Punch down quickly; cover; let rise another hour.

Step 4

  • Here is the conventional method – you can check out the Armenian technique in the recipe for individual Beureks:
  • Divide the dough into 6 pieces. With your fingertips, roll each one into a long thin rope, all of equal length.
  • Take 3 ropes and pinch them together at one end.
  • Braid the three strands, then pinch together the end of the braid so that it does not come undone during baking and fold under for a neater presentation. Repeat to make the second braid.
  • Place the braids on a parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure they are well spaced.
  • Let rise in a warm, draft-free location for another hour. To check whether the dough is sufficiently risen, poke it lightly with your finger. It should leave a slight indentation. You can also leave it to rise overnight.

Step 5

  • Preheat the oven to 180° C/350° F.
  • Brush the loaves with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Bake for 70 minutes in the preheated oven or until the bread is a nice golden brown.
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